Standards Under Pressure

Global standards are emerging, driven by Industry 4.0, IIoT, and an influx of open standards-based hardware and software

Open standards enable manufacturers to achieve the goal of holistic and adaptive automation system architectures. Germany’s “Industrie 4.0” initiative ignited worldwide cooperative efforts among European countries, China, Japan, and India. The Internet of Things (IoT) is having a big influence on standards for industrial sites, because many commercial application requirements match those for manufacturing: real-time responsiveness, sensing, ruggedness, and open communications. 

History has proven the impact: In the computer industry, the transition to open source standards resulted in a significantly larger selection of lower-cost hardware and advanced software that did not require programming. This increased the number of applications possible (again, think spreadsheets) and expanded the industry dramatically. Manufacturers should not hesitate to follow their example. 

The influx of open standards–based hardware and software is shifting implementation of industrial automation system functions to users. There are increasing numbers of people newly entering the industry who are already using IoT sensors, cloud computing, and edge computing to create more responsive applications for control and automation. The collaboration of industrial automation veterans with young professionals who understand the open IoT and computing industry technologies have led to the creation of highly effective solutions. 

Manufacturing open-architecture initiatives are driving industrial control and automation standards. There is a great degree of cooperation and partnering among these groups and with the computer industry. See key drivers (below) for some of the more prominent examples. 

By Bill Lydon, Contributing Editor 

Key Elements and Drivers

  • MTConnect: The MTConnect standard (ANSI/MTC1.4-2018) has a semantic vocabulary for manufacturing equipment to provide structured, contextualized data with no proprietary format. 
  • OPC Foundation: The OPC Foundation OPC UA semantic models and schema from industry organizations further global standardization interoperability (sensor to enterprise). It can be communicated with most communication methods, including modern industrial protocols, Ethernet, cellular, and wireless. 
  • Industry 4.0 for Process – Modular Production: The application of Industry 4.0 concepts to improve process automation is driven by NAMUR, ZVEI, VDI, VDMA, and ProcessNet. The “module type package” (MTP) is a central concept for a standardized, nonproprietary description of modules for process automation. 
  • RAMI 4.0 Reference Architectural Model: RAMI 4.0 gives companies a framework for developing future products and business models. It is designed as a three-dimensional map showing companies how to approach the deployment of Industry 4.0 in a structured manner. 
  • The Open Group’s Open Process Automation ForumThe Open Group’s OPAF formally launched in November 2016 by publishing the first standard in a series. OPAF continues to advance. The group is focused on a multivendor, standards-based, open, secure, and interoperable process control architecture. 

Industry Impact

  • Open standards broaden the number of solutions available to increase productivity, profits, and competitiveness. 
  • The influx of new technology suppliers brings more responsive and cost-effective solutions. 
  • Increased ease-of-use empowers users to focus on improving their specific manufacturing processes. 


For ISA Members and Leaders

  • Embrace and become knowledgeable about open manufacturing concepts and initiatives. 
  • Foster active participation, leadership, and knowledge of new standards to deliver programs for members to apply the right technologies to increase profits and efficiency.  
  • Participate in the integration of enterprise computing, operations technology, and automation standards. 


Articles and Resources

Can ISA95 Standards Apply to Industry 4.0?

ISA Interchange Blog - 7 August 2020

ISA95 arose during Industry 3.0, but in my personal opinion, Industry 4.0 doesn't challenge ISA95. Rather, Industry 4.0 is a powerful tool that can take ISA95 into new areas by leveraging its structure, its definitions, and its teachings. ISA95 heavily references people, process, materials, and so on. These are the core concerns of industrial operations, and they have not changed.

Read more

Standards Update: SCADA, IDM, and Enterprise-Control System Integration

InTech Magazine - July/August 2020

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The Role of Standards in Functional Safety

ISA Interchange Blog - 14 April 2020

Internationally recognized functional safety standards have been developed and adopted to increase equipment and process safety. The primary goal of these standards is to develop a continuous improvement approach to safety system management and enable end users to understand the safety status of their assets.

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Understanding Automation Cybersecurity Standards [Webinar Recording]

Building a Resilient World: Practical Automation Cybersecurity - 20 March 2020

Industrial control systems and IT systems differ in subtle yet important ways. For example, effective cybersecurity for industrial control systems (ICS) must address a range of complex concerns in the physical world—in addition to the cyber threats that IT system⁠s face. In the event of a cyberattack, ICS risk dire consequences, including public endangerment; damage to equipment, products, or the environment; and even loss of life. 

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Auto Manufacturers Could Build Ventilators: The Power of Standards in a Global Crisis

ISA Interchange Blog - 19 March 2020

As COVID-19 shutters manufacturing plants in North America and around the world, GM, Ford, and Tesla are all considering plans to start building critical medical equipment, such as ventilators, for patients with the most acute cases of the virus. 

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